When Pleasanton resident Julie Bruce helped deliver gifts as part of the Angel Mary program in San Antonio years ago, she knew it was something she wanted to bring to Atascosa County.
So in November of 2019, collection boxes were set up throughout the county at various locations. Bruce, with the help of other volunteers, delivered the gifts to local children and Atascosa County Project Christmas was born.
This year, Bruce, her elves, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus continued the tradition on Christmas Eve. They distributed toys for 150 children in Pleasanton, Jourdanton, Poteet and Charlotte. The program’s goal is to reach those children most in need who may miss out on the other programs available due to a number of reasons. For example, some families don’t have transportation to go and fill out applications or they lack Internet access.
With COVID-19 concerns, Bruce was anticipating a rough year. As early as April, Bruce posted on the group’s Facebook page, asking others to start thinking about donations and ways to get creative.
Bruce describes the feeling of seeing the excited children as overwhelming.
“It really feels like Christmas. You don’t really feel Christmas until you feel that. Unless you’ve experienced it, you can’t even explain it,” said Bruce. “It feels good to see those kids and know that you’re making them smile and bringing joy to them.”
She would like to send a special thanks to everyone who made this event possible, including businesses and their customers for their generous donations.
Nine collection toy boxes were set up for this year’s program. Those stations included: State Farm in Jourdanton- Jeff Chicoine, Factory Connection, Valvoline, Mane Attraction, The Hideaway Salon, the Pleasanton Church of Christ, Lillian Cashmer Insurance Agency in Pleasanton, Lowe’s in Poteet and the Poteet Public Library. 3013 BBQ in Poteet also presented a donation of bikes to the program. Members of VFW Post 4853 took some of the elves shopping.
Her goal for next year is to hand out flyers for the children in Charlotte ahead of time and set up at a central location.
The distribution is quite a feat, as the Project Christmas team delivers to all four major local towns in the same day.
As Bruce said, “Santa Claus comes on Christmas Eve and finds them where they are.”